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Shuffle Up: Where are you, Dan Haren?

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Where do we go from here? (USP)

Of all the Shuffle Ups, this is the one that really matters. Today we tackle the starting pitchers, the ultimate fluctuation stock.

Usual shuffle rules apply. Assume a 5x5 rotisserie league, this year only. The rankings reflect how I'd attack a start-fresh league that begins right now. Players at the same price are considered even, and don't obsess over the actual dollar figure: what matters is how the players relate to one another.

I'll add comments later in the day and tweak the rankings a little bit. Your intelligent and respectful disagreement is always welcome, but make sure you include some reasoning. Further the conversation. Be good to the room. Be good to yourself.

Anyone on the DL or in the minors is ineligible for this list. I'm not going to get into optimism wars, they're pointless. And remember the golden rule of roto: no one gains 10-20 percent of bonus value simply because you roster them. Ready to rock? Make the jump.

$31 Justin Verlander
$30 Matt Cain
$29 Clayton Kershaw
$28 Jered Weaver
$27 Zack Greinke
$27 Madison Bumgarner
$26 Cole Hamels
$26 Felix Hernandez
$25 Chris Sale
$24 Stephen Strasburg
$24 R.A. Dickey
$23 Josh Johnson
$23 C.J. Wilson

At the top end, it's about floor as much as anything else. The amazing consistency of Justin Verlander (he's a lock to go 100-plus pitches every time out) justifies his spot here. Of course, all of these elite pitchers give you upside as well. I don't think you need an extended treatise about Verlander's ability. … We've seen some interesting home/road splits from Zack Greinke since he came to the NL, but his Milwaukee bias won't matter much when he's traded — and I'd be shocked if Milwaukee didn't move him. … The White Sox have already changed course a couple of times on Chris Sale, but I'll take them at their word when they say he won't be babied or held to a workload cap. If you hear anything to the contrary, let me know and we'll re-evaluate. … With the Nationals likely to make the playoffs, the prudent move would be to limit Stephen Strasburg in the middle of the year - keep him to 5-6 innings here, skip him a start there. They'll need him in October. I suppose there's a chance they eventually junk the entire resting plan, but my hunch is that he'll be semi-rested as the season goes along, almost like an NBA coach who finds creative ways to conserve his top players.

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The Q from Queen City (USP)

$22 Gio Gonzalez
$22 David Price
$22 Johnny Cueto
$21 James McDonald
$20 Tommy Hanson
$19 Jake Peavy
$19 Yu Darvish
$18 Matt Garza
$18 Adam Wainwright
$18 Ryan Vogelsong
$18 A.J. Burnett
$17 Cliff Lee
$17 Jordan Zimmermann
$17 Mat Latos
$17 Johan Santana

If you want to hear some gushing Johnny Cueto love, meet up with my buddy Mike Salfino. He's all-in on the Cincinnati righty, and thus far he's looking pretty good with that call. My semi-reluctance on Cueto comes down to three things: a K/9 of 6.6 leaves me a little cold; his peripheral-suggested ERAs don't trust his current 2.26 at all (then again, some pitchers consistently surpass those things); and he has a history of regressing in the second half, which seems to match up to the body type. But even with some regression priced in, I'd say this is a lofty expectation that I'm putting on Cueto … even if it falls short of what some other analysts think.

Mat Latos received an 11th-hour bump in this column, mostly because he's throwing his slider a lot more of late and the results have been excellent. Maybe this change in approach doesn't sound good for his long-term potential – the slider can be a tricky pitch for your elbow's health – but we'll enjoy the returns for now.

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Yo Gabba Gabba (USP)

$16 Chris Capuano
$16 Jon Lester
$16 Dan Haren
$15 Lance Lynn
$15 Yovani Gallardo
$14 Edwin Jackson
$14 Ivan Nova
$14 James Shields
$13 Jonathon Niese
$13 Francisco Liriano
$13 Ian Kennedy
$13 Max Scherzer
$13 Matt Moore
$13 Tim Hudson
$13 Justin Masterson
$12 Phil Hughes
$12 Jarrod Parker
$12 Doug Fister
$12 Jason Hammel
$12 Vance Worley

I'm really glad I don't own Dan Haren in any critical leagues this year. He's a maddening case and a very difficult call. Even in this exercise, I've ping-ponged him a few times between $16-17, finally settling on this current number (and I won't move him again).

On one hand, Haren roughest stretch is contained in four starts since June 9, and one of them came in Colorado. Okay, so we don't have to worry, right? Then again, his ERA to that point was merely 3.52, not the elite level we paid for. The 14-strikeout game at Seattle back in May should have made everyone relax (and Haren beat the Yanks the next week with a strong effort), but he only has 19 punchouts over his last five turns. His .323 hit rate is higher than league norm, but not some crazy outlier.

The under-the-hood ERA estimators will defend Haren to a point: while they don't match a 4.53 front-door ERA, there's nothing special about a 4.04 FIP, a 3.85 xFIP or a 3.80 SIERA. And Haren's career ERA is .63 higher in the second half. Bottom line? Haren sits here in limbo, at a non-trivial cost but far from the star pitchers. I'll let him be someone else's problem.

Although Yovani Gallardo is still just 26, I've downshifted into "he is what he is" mode. He's never had an ERA lower than 3.52 in any full season (despite pitching in a very friendly division). His career WHIP is 1.30, not a needle-mover. He's always going to allow a fair amount of homers. And his control has regressed significantly this year. What's so special about this guy? Strikeouts are nice, but they're just one category.

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Rattle and Hum (USP)

I'd like to go a lot higher on Jarrod Parker (and initially I had him at $14), but let's remember there's a Tommy John surgery in his rear-view mirror and the Athletics have no incentive to push him through the season. And while I'll give Parker some credit for keeping the ball in the park, a HR/FB rate of just 4.5 percent isn't sustainable.

$11 Trevor Cahill
$11 Hiroki Kuroda
$11 Wandy Rodriguez
$11 Franklin Morales
$11 Matt Harrison
$11 Tim Lincecum
$11 Wade Miley
$10 Anibal Sanchez
$10 Trevor Bauer
$10 Ubaldo Jimenez
$9 Ricky Nolasco
$9 Bud Norris
$9 Mike Leake
$8 Roy Oswalt
$8 Kyle Lohse
$7 Ricky Romero
$7 Erik Bedard
$7 Tommy Milone
$6 Ervin Santana
$6 Gavin Floyd
$6 Jose Quintana

Wade Miley is another pitcher who's probably going to see some ratio correction as he works deeper into the year. His FIP currently stands at 2.88, his xFIP at 3.65. I realize the Snakes have a bunch of soft opponents in the division, but eventually the Arizona hitting environment will be heard from. I'm not saying you have to kick Miley to the curb, and I feel confident that I'm ranking him a lot higher than many industry pundits are. But I give him a zero percent chance to be anywhere close to that 2.19 ERA when the year ends. He doesn't miss enough bats, and it's difficult to keep a .255 BABIP for a full season. (One last thing about Miley: his ERA in the minors last year, at two stops, was 4.30. This isn't Big - he didn't go up to the Zoltar machine and ask to be transformed into Clayton Kershaw. It's been a nice run, but see it for what it is.)

Batters are hitting .393 off Roy Oswalt through two starts, and one of those turns came against a Colorado offense that can't do a thing on the road. In a medium mixer, you need to shoot for higher upside. … In the right type of format, I could see Tommy Milone being a $10 arm. But if you're in a low-cap league and have to mind the K/9, he's less intriguing. I still love watching him pitch, as he's decisive and usually around the plate.

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Wendell Gee (USP)

$5 Jeff Samardzija
$5 Luke Hochevar
$5 Andrew Cashner
$5 Michael Fiers
$5 Dillon Gee
$5 Clayton Richard
$4 Jair Jurrjens
$4 Scott Diamond
$4 Ross Detwiler
$4 Travis Wood
$3 Homer Bailey
$3 Garrett Richards
$3 Felix Doubront
$3 Aaron Harang
$3 Mark Buehrle
$3 Chad Billingsley
$3 Wei-Yin Chen
$3 Marco Estrada
$2 Derek Lowe
$2 Drew Smyly
$2 Carlos Zambrano
$2 Nathan Eovaldi
$2 Barry Zito
$2 Rick Porcello
$2 Wade Davis
$2 Daisuke Matsuzaka
$2 Kevin Correia
$2 Chris Young
$2 Edinson Volquez
$2 Travis Blackley
$2 Bruce Chen
$1 Kyle Kendrick
$1 Jason Vargas
$1 Brian Matusz
$1 Henderson Alvarez
$1 Kevin Millwood
$1 Randy Wolf
$1 Alex Cobb
$1 J.A. Happ
$1 Bronson Arroyo
$1 Lucas Harrell
$1 Joe Blanton
$1 Mike Minor
$1 Dallas Keuchel
$1 Randall Delgado
$1 Jake Westbrook
$1 Jason Marquis
$0.75 Paul Maholm
$0 Christian Friedrich
$0 John Blutarsky
$0 Jonathan Sanchez
$0 Brett Cecil
$0 Jake Arrieta
$0 Vin Mazzaro

Previous Shuffles: Outfielders (6/21), Catchers (6/14), Middles (6/8), Corners (5/31).

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